I live in Tucson with my wife Connie and volunteer with Sky Island Alliance, a regionally-based environmental organization. I am also poetry editor for Zócalo, a local arts magazine. I'm an opportunist, not a poet with a plan. Whatever catches my fancy, I write about: an engaging image, a political or environmental issue, a bit of zoology, an overheard conversation, and, of course, love, love, love. In grad school, I fell in love with Jonathan Swift. Thirty years later, I still have to rein in my satirical impulses to protect whatever is tender in my poems. Diphtheria Festival, my tenth poetry collection, will be available in March from Main Street Rag press.
I’ve been thinking lately about tsunamis,
dreaming about them. We’re at the beach,
working on our skin cancer, when the horizon
starts trembling. I wake up, wondering
why I can’t visualize the approaching wave,
its height or velocity, its changing colors.
I don’t mean stock images from disaster movies,
the safe magic of CGI. A cruise ship
swanning past, big as a city block, imagine
a wave tossing her like a piece of driftwood.
I can’t. Someone once told me what
you can’t imagine can’t happen—
the shadow of the approaching wave
rising against the buildings like night filling
up the window when you raise the shade.
(previously published in Four Chambers)
The Next Extinction
My friend mocks tree huggers
like me. The long view,
he insists, almost gleeful
about the coming extinction.
I imagine him at his computer,
no electricity, raindrops
greasing the window.
I imagine hundreds
of volunteers by a creek,
pulling buffelgrass, stem
by invasive stem, all of us
sweating, joking, giddy with hope.
(previously published in Spiral Orb)
My soap, cruelty-free,
olive oil. I smell
like a salad. Do Muslim
men do household chores?
I consider converting.
Did their ancestors, like
ours, keep kill data?
“After mass, December 23,
1940, Santa Cruz River,
a jaguar, male, roped,
killed with rocks, 138 lbs,
tail 72 inches, stomach
full of frogs.” Can you
even say this in Arabic?
(previously published in Get Serious: New and Selected Poems)
©2016 Jefferson Carter